Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Ryan Toews adds: "The Zero up on a pylon is an A6M2, note the air intake underneath the cowling."
This Zero operated from Tobera Airfield south of Rabual and was abandoned.
During the middle 1970s, this Zero was recovered from Richard Gault's Plantation. When recovered, one of the
7.7mm machine guns was still aboard, but the plane was otherwise gutted.
The Zero was cosmetically restored, and placed on a pole with
a green/gray/pink color scheme, and supported
by guide wires near Malmaluan at Coastwatchers
Lookout. Later, repainted with green upper surfaces.
Brian Bennett adds:
"Placed on the pole made of universal steel beam, about 8 x 6". After
it was placed on the mount an additional support of a length of 1 and half
inch galvanized steel water pipe was placed to take the weight of the engine and
propeller. Heavy gauge fencing wire was fixed from each wingtip to a ground anchor
point so as to counter act side movement. There are quite strong winds through
the memorial park during both seasons. Eventually unknown persons from the local
indigenous community realized that there were cheap building materials at hand
so the wing restraining wires were cut off and stolen and a one yard section
of the engine support pipe was cut out. With the strong winds frequent in the
area the aerodynamic structure of the aircraft made it want to fly so constant
rocking motion eventually caused the main mount to fail."
Rodger Kelly adds:
"This Zero roughly restored was placed on a pole at
Coastwatchers Memorial Lookout. At one
stage, it fell off its perch and was then trucked
back into town, where it was placed in the yard of the Rabaul
Technical College, a fellow by the name of Michael Pearson being
responsible for it. Michael recovered a lot of stuff
from the wrecks in the harbour if my memory serves me correctly.
I last saw it in the Technical College
about 1985, or earlier."
Around 1979, the supporting pole was damaged by vandalism,
and the aircraft fell over during high winds, and damaged when it
hit the ground, breaking one of the wings. Afterwards, the Zero was removed by Brian Bennett to the Department of Civil Aviation at Lakunai Airport to
prevent further damage and later placed in the yard of the Rabaul
Technical College. Later, removed by Peter Leggett of the Kula Lodge and sunk in Talili Bay as
a SCUBA dive site.
Thanks to Ryan Toews and Brian Bennett for additional information
Aircraft Wrecks page 37 (upper)
Diving & Snorkeling Papua New Guinea page 115
"Part of a Japanese Zero Fighter is among the wrecks. The marking bouy is near a garden of giant clams."
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June 29, 2019